The Power of Herbs to Heal

By Barbara Cunnings-Versaevel

For years, prior to the evolvement of what we know today as traditional medicine, there were many healing modalities existing around the world. Modalities that were based on what God gave us to heal – the bounty of nature. The current trend towards drugs to heal is new. In fact, many drugs are extracts of nature’s plants.

Yes, there are some drugs that have made a huge contribution to the health of many. Penicillin, polio vaccines, a wide range of antibiotics, etc.; however, drugs are not the answer for everything.

Our culture seems to want a ‘magic bullet’ – a pill that will fix what ails them so they can get back on the road they have travelled quickly with minimum fuss and down time. There is the tendency to shirk away from exploring lifestyle and/or emotional issues that are really at the root of the body expressing in illness. We live in a stressful environment – work, family, pressures, expectations – most are unrealistic, yet we keep running to keep up. Why?

Each of us knows our ‘why’ whether consciously or subconsciously. I had this revelation when I was diagnosed with cancer. To buy myself time to figure out how to help myself, I opted for traditional treatment – surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. The difference was I didn’t count on it to heal me. It only bought me time to research, dig and probe all the nuances of my life searching for what could possibly make the difference. In this search, I came upon the power of herbs and natural healing methods of other cultures.

Here are some herbs that I have either used or found credible information:

1. Essiac

I was introduced to the Essiac formula – a tea comprised of sheep sorrel, burdock root, slippery elm and Indian rhubarb root.  My mother saw an article in the paper and sent it to me. It related how Rene Caisse, a nurse in Bracebridge, Ontario, discovered an old Ojibwa Indian formula through a patient of hers who presented with breast cancer. It is a fascinating story worth exploring. Due to regulations, I am not allowed to share links to this product. However, you can google ‘Essiac and Rene Caisse’ and several sites will come up with tons of information plus a rare video footage I caught of an actual interview with Rene Caisse.

Once I found where to get Essiac, I started drinking the tea. The distributor I purchased it from had to rename the formula, called it Can-Aid, due to the ever present fear of being shut down by the government. The fact that it worked, had worked for so very many terminal cancer patients, was researched, etc., didn’t matter. It posed a threat to the current medical model. It is a natural substance therefore little profit to be derived. When you research the story behind Rene Caisse, you will quickly see how she was harassed, not unlike present day circumstances when people speak up about other ways of healing other than surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.

Even today, I have approached a few companies who carry the original formula requesting the right to advertise their product on my site – all said no. The fear still is real. They want no taint of quackery, the label applied to discredit viable options. True there are quacks out there, but if you dig for the research and look at credible sites, you will see there is much that is extremely helpful and works.

I took this tea for over two years and knew it had worked. I could feel it in my body. At the time, I still had an uncomfortable feeling under my arm where they took 22 lymph nodes. My breast tissue after the lumpectomy and radiation was hard. The tissue softened and became normal after drinking Essiac. My energy levels returned. I was healing – and still am healed 25 years later to date. I also know others who have had similar experiences.

2. Dandelion Root

One new area of research is being done at the University of Windsor, Ontario, on dandelion root and it’s cancer fighting properties. Here are two articles published recently, one in The Windsor Star and the other by the Washington Post.  It is cited that dandelion root will cause the death of a cancer cell without harming healthy cells. I’m so excited that finally someone is both funding and doing research on an herb that could make a huge difference in the life expectancy of someone diagnosed with cancer. If modern medicine has given up on you, what have you got to lose by trying something that could work?

3. Pau  D Arco

I heard of this herb from my boss whose origins are part native Indian (Metis). For years, Native Indians have used this herb for healing many ailments, one of them cancer. Again, it is a tea similar to the Essiac formula. At the time, I tried it. The taste was quite bitter and being new to cancer, I was still dealing with my current treatment regime. Like most of us in this state of mind, new ideas are often treated with skepticism. People are quick to give us information and cures. It’s really hard to discern which are credible and which are not.

As I moved along in my cancer journey, I learned from others who had used Pau d Arco successfully to heal their cancers that it was credible. By this time, I had used the Essiac formula with my own success and didn’t feel the need to explore Pau d Arco. But it does work in a similar manner.

How do these herbs work?

Mostly, all of these herbs remove toxins from the body and help the body’s own immune system function properly. They purify the blood. By doing so, they place the body in a position to heal itself. Although there are cautions about the use of specific herbs, they are generally non toxic. Still it is a good idea to check any areas of concern if you are on other medications.

I’ve heard that doctors do not like you to take these herbs when you are in the midst of traditional treatment. However, those who do take the herbs, often unreported to the doctor, find the side effects of treatment are diminished. My personal opinion is that doctors really don’t know enough about these herbs and are loathe to put their reputations on the line. Fair enough!

Where can you get these herbs?

The Essiac formula is now carried in health food stores and health sections of local supermarkets. Make sure that the product you buy is listed as having the ‘original Rene Caisse formula’. Not all of the products are certified original. There should only be four herbs in the formulation. When I took Essiac, it was in liquid form. Now they have it in capsules and powder – and if you are ambitious, you can find the recipe online and make your own. The issue will be sourcing the herbs. But you will enjoy a substantial savings.

Dandelion Root and Pau d Arco can be purchased at health food stores and sometimes in the health section of local supermarkets as well. Again, liquid, capsules and powder forms are available.

One online source where you can get all three herbs is Starwest Botanicals. Their prices are reasonable and they carry all forms of each product.
I would highly encourage you to do your own research. Dig around and learn what these herbs, and many others, have to offer in the way of healing. We were given a bounty in nature – everything we need to be healthy. We do not always have to rely on drugs and the pharmaceutical industry to provide us with the tools for great health. With diligence and curiosity, we can be the masters of our destiny – be in control.

I hope this has been helpful. I am always looking for new information, new ways to stay healthy, and constantly exploring old and more gentle ways of healing. Life will change as you move further into your cancer journey. Your body will change and require different nutrients.

Remember, what we put into our body is only one part of the healing equation. Healing is about balancing and connecting our body, mind and spirit. These parts of us are all important. Being out of balance in one area will have an impact on the other two. Healing is a whole body experience.

To your health and wellbeing,


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